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Coaching Staff


Steve Wagner
Bartels-Nicholas Head Coach

          Coach Wagner is in his 40th year at Rutgers, serving as the Director of Rowing and Head Coach of the Men’s Crew for the past 31 years.  Under Steve's direction, the Rutgers Crew has excelled, producing many nationally ranked crews, Intercollegiate Rowing Association National Championship finalists, and many memorable regular season victories in Rutgers’ traditional “Cup” races.  Most recently, Rutgers won the silver medal at the 2005 IRA in the Varsity 4, and the 2003 Rutgers Men’s Heavyweight Varsity 8 advanced all the way to the final of the Henley Royal Regatta in England, beating the heavily favored home town crew Leander Boat Club along the way.

       Wagner’s coaching philosophy is simple: teach basics, train the athletes with a well planned effective system, create competitive situations where the athletes can learn, and above all else, make sure the program is a great experience and fun to be part of.   His success in these areas is why so many Rutgers oarsmen have been successful, and why many have gone on to represent the United States at the World Championships and Olympic Games.  In fact, over the past 20 years, the Rutgers program has produced more members of the U. S. Olympic Rowing Team than any other university in the country, including 4 members of the 1992 Olympic team, 6 members of the 1996 Olympic team, and 4 members of the 2000 Olympic team.

          Wagner is a 1976 graduate of Rutgers School of Engineering with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering.  He earned a Masters degree in Environmental Science in 1990.  For several years, Wagner served as a part time adjunct professor in the Science Departments of Middlesex County College and Raritan Valley Community College.

           Wagner began his coaching career while in graduate school at the Florida Institute of Technology, where he produced three consecutive undefeated Freshmen crews, and won the 1979 Dad Vail Regatta (small college National Championship) in the Freshmen 8 and Freshmen 4 events.  His next stop was Columbia University, where his freshmen crews turned the program around, defeating several league opponents for the first time in many years.

          Wagner returned to Rutgers in the fall of ’83 to take over the women’s crew program.  His 1984 Women’s Varsity 8 was the most successful and highest ranked women’s crew Rutgers has ever produced, and their highest finish ever (5th) in the Eastern Association of Women’s Rowing Colleges.  For the next 3 years, Wagner served as the Freshmen Heavyweight Men’s Coach.  His 1986 Freshmen Crew finished 4th in the Grand Final of the IRA National Championships, and his 1987 Freshmen Crew finished the regular season undefeated, making the Grand Final of both the EARC Sprints and IRA Regattas.  Wagner became Head Coach in the fall of 1987 upon the retirement of Rutgers legendary coach of 27 years Bill Leavitt.

          Wagner was the Director of the Craftsbury Sculling Center in Vermont for 25 years, from 1979 – 2003.  He is co-founder and co-Director of the Raritan Valley Rowing Camp at Rutgers University, a summer rowing camp for high school students.  Established in 1991, it was the first, and remains the oldest, university affiliated rowing camp in the country.   Wagner is also founder and Director of Black Bear Sculling, a porgram that operates sculling camps and clinics throughout the country.


             Steve and his wife Susan reside in Piscataway, NJ, where they raised their five children.


Dave Specca
Assistant Coach


      Coach Specca is in his 4th season with Rutgers as Assistant Coach. His primary duties include athlete development and recruiting both high school and walk-on athletes. Specca also assists Head Coach Steve Wagner in the day-to-day operations and administration of the overall program.


          Coach Specca returned to the Raritan after coaching the boy’s crew at Bishop Eustace Preparatory School in Pennsauken, New Jersey from 2013 to 2019. Before going to Bishop Eustace, Specca served as Graduate Assistant at Rutgers for the  of 2012-2013 season.


           Dave  rowed at Rutgers University from 2008 to 2012, spending three years in the Varsity Eight. He was captain of the crew for the 2011-2012 season, and won the Rutgers Rowing award and the Outstanding Novice award. His time at Rutgers Dave was part of the crew who won the Freshman 8+ at the Knecht Cup and won many Varsity dual races.


            Specca was a novice and learned to row at Rutgers.  In high school he was a 3 sport athlete competing on Varsity soccer, winter and spring track. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Rutgers School of Engineering and a Masters Degree in Sustainability and Green Engineering also from Rutgers.  After graduation Dave moved to Philadelphia and worked as a mechanical engineer in Voorhees NJ.


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Kyle Pahira
Volunteer Assistant Coach


Coach Pahira is a first year graduate assistant for the 2023-2024 season. He assists Coach Specca in coaching the team’s walk-on athletes as well as maintaining equipment throughout the year. Pahira’s responsibilities also include athlete development for the spring racing season.


Pahira completed two years at Middlesex College before transfering into the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences at Rutgers. He joined the team as a novice, learning to row at Rutgers where he competed in both his junior and senior year.

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